Archive for February, 2010

What is the point,

of An Education???

That was the burning question that Jenny sought to answer in her final year of high school. The only daughter of a middle class couple, Jenny had her future planned out for her. There wasn’t any doubt about it. She was to finish school, score top marks (if she could just get her Latin up to scratch), apply and get accepted by Oxford to study English. Beyond that, well, given that it was the 1960’s, she would probably find and husband and have a family. Of course women had careers then, but they weren’t exactly married to their jobs either.

An Education received an Oscar nod for best picture whereas Carey Mulligan, who plays Jenny, is nominated for Best Actress. So I professed that I was very curious to watch her acting skills during this movie, because the only other time I saw her was in Keira Knightly’s Pride and Prejudice and at that time, she wasn’t much more than a giggling teenager.

However, 22 year old Mulligan had to act all 16 and giggly again for this film because she brings us along on her ride to maturity. It can be called a coming of age film but I find this to be much more than that and there is something about each character that helps build on the meaning of this film.

The film does give me a sense of being all bored and odious because I think post-war Britain was supposed to be like that. Although it was the 60s and we’ve heard alot about the ‘swinging sixties’, I guess it hasn’t really reached across the Atlantic then from America to England. Everything was still grey and dull. The cold war was still in full swing and even though I wouldn’t dream of giving up anything to grow up during that period, I suspect it was quite a momentous period to grow up in. So much happening during that time (J.F. Kennedy, Berlin Wall, Apollo space project, nuclear research and testing, Vietnam war… not to mention T.A.R. announced his idea of forming Malaysia and also Catch – 22 was published – I’ve yet to read that book), quite a tremultous time to grow up in without having to deal with one’s own problems nearer at hand.

So imagine good ol’ Jenny who is the hope of her family (and her teachers), judiciously slaving away at her books, dreaming of Oxford (and Paris, because yes, the continent is THE place to visit for all things culture) Here, I wish I know some cool french word that I can just casually slip in but all I know is chic so erm, lets forget that shall we? Anyway, one day she meets this 30-ish man who suddenly opens her eyes to the world outside of school and home. Think art auctions, trendy nightclubs, racing meets, champagne, perfume….

Somehow, this sophisticated guy manages to charm her parents on his first meeting, convincing them to let their 16 year old daughter go on a date with him and later, even let him take her to Paris for her 17th birthday. O_O I find it quite hard to imagine such gullible parents (or greedy?). Just because he drives a flashy car and knows C.S. Lewis, doesn’t mean he can court your daughter just like that?

being a famous author isn’t as good as knowing a famous one. It shows that you’ve got connections…

so said Jenny’s father. Honestly, even his daughter couldn’t comprehend his logic.

I was anticipating some sort tragedy happening the minute she started going out with the guy. You know, like him seducing her and then dumping her and all that stuff. Instead I was left tittering on the edge every single time. Sure, she choosed to lose her virginity when she turned 17 but the story did not end there. In fact, it glazed over that fact so quickly, I didn’t even realised until some time after -_-“. Throughout this, Jenny started questioning her initial choice in life. She started wondering why people even bother going to school. Rosamund Pike (I love her), who plays her female companion in the posh life, teaching her about makeup and dresses, is a complete airheaded bimbo who is so artless and ignorant, one would think that is reason enough why people bother sending their kids to school. Of course, I’m sure the lack of education doesn’t render everyone hopeless when it comes to having meaningful, provocative conversations. In fact one does envy her luck in life, even if she does day the darnest things.

I find it highly amusing that when confronted by Jenny, none of her teachers, including her formidable headmistress (Emma Thompson) could give her a solid reason to continue her studies. Her English teacher admitted to staying up all night slaving through endless essays by the girls about their ponies while the headmistress advertised that with her degree, she could go into teaching or some clerical job or the civil service *gasp*. Tell that to someone who has just come back from a whirlwind trip in Paris and they’ll probably give it as much thought as a fly on the wall. -_-” To shed tears and sweat on English and Latin so that one can eventually exchange that for a drab, unexciting and often unappreciated job of teaching. One does wonder the worth of it all. (Plus, remember the bimbo airhead had no education whatsoever, talks of empty nothings, and lives the high life) Of course, in the 60’s, being a female and trying to get a career isn’t an easy task. They get paid 45% less than their male counterparts and are restricted from joining most fields (an interesting fact, Israel had like the highest % of female doctors in their workforce around that time, bout 33% if I’m not mistaken. Israel, imagine that).

Guess what was more astounding? When her parents were more than happy to see their only daughter quit school and get married to a man twice her age. *faints* I was expecting an angry outburst, Jenny was expecting an angry confrontation. I think we were both flabbergasted when her parents took her news with complete indifference. Not a single objection. No mention of Oxford was made. In fact, she had to bring the topic up herself in an attempt to rile them. And their answer to that??? Well, she wouldn’t need Oxford now would she, if she’s already found a nice man to settle down with? I particularly liked how Jenny retaliated by saying that if the whole point of sending her to Oxford was so that she could meet a rich husband, they could have just dolled her up and sent her prowling through the nightclubs. Far less painful for each of them. I was rather shocked as well with that revelation. I mean, what happened to the feminist movement and all that??? Was suburban London that far behind in terms of modern thinking and values??? It seems like England had a lot of catching up to do before it arrived at the independence that American women enjoyed. Heck, Amelia flew her transatlantic flight in 1932! Okie, that has nothing to do with it…..

Jenny’s rude awakening finally arrived. However, she showed great deal of mature thinking and responsibility when the time came (more so than her parents). No she did not became a teenage single mother, that was Juno. -_-” Needless to say, I was most impressed with how she handled everything, not letting events get the better of her and wallowing in self pity. Her determination and perseverence, although I hope I would never find myself in such a predicament, I do hope that when required, I am able to show that much courage.

I’ve been rambling too much.I notice that my entries have become rather wordy of late. A complete opposite from the trends of blogs nowadays which tend to be picture heavy with captions. But I guess that’s the reason why I blog, to write down my ramblings. =P

Anyway, An Education is worth a watch. It is refreshing, funny, sad and most importantly meaningful. Meaningful in a different way from the likes of My sister’s Keeper, 19 minutes, Time Traveller’s Wife etc. I cannot abide by these stories at all and keep well away from them (apart from the latter, that was not too bad). Jodi Picoult writes moving stories but somehow I just find them too….. mass marketed. *sigh* I don’t know how to explain. Yeah, the characters pull at our heartstrings but when it is over, we put away the book and move on without a moment’s hesitation. This film however, made me think twice, thrice. Made me want to understand why these people acted the way they did back then, made me wonder at the evolution of social patterns over the years, and made me wonder what was to come.

So I ramble…..

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